We spoke to Alastair Johnson, the CEO and Founder of Nuggets, about crypto’s potential, how selfish motivation helped him start a business, and why he looks down on books for entrepreneurs. Read the interview below.
Location: London, United Kingdom About: CEO & Founder of Nuggets Website: https://nuggets.life/ Experience: 21 years in digital innovation, deep knowledge across technical, production and commercial areas. Experience in global integrated product development and product marketing for brands like Microsoft, Skype, Xbox, Disney, TED and the BBC.
Interviewer: Hi, Alastair! In your own words, tell us about Nuggets.
Alastair Johnson: At Nuggets we believe that personal information should be owned and controlled by the person.
Nuggets is an e-commerce payment and ID platform. It stores your personal and payment data securely in the blockchain, so you never have to share it with anyone – not even Nuggets. That means no more data breaches – because companies don’t have to store your data. You can make payments and use services without worrying about your privacy or security.
But that’s really just the beginning: once you understand the potential of a digital identity associated with the payment, verification and other services, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
I: What pushed you to create Nuggets?
AJ: My personal and payment details were used fraudulently online after being stored in a centralized database with a service. After going through the pain of that, I realized just how many services had my personal information, because I had to then go through them all and update them. I discovered first hand how common data breaches are these days (apparently up 75% this year).
Combine that with all the time you spend putting usernames and passwords into apps and services when you get a new phone, play on a friends playstation etc., it’s neverending. Add to that situations like your bank’s fraud department ringing you up asking for your mother’s maiden name, your first pet’s name and so on, without proving who they are in the first place. It’s a mess.
“To be honest, I am just being selfish, because most of what we are doing is looking to solve the problems that I have. It just so happens that a few billion other people are looking for the same solution.”
I: Apart from investors, who would be interested in your ICO?
AJ: We are a utility token so primarily our users and people who share our vision, be that a consumer, a merchant or a tech visionary.
I: How is Nuggets different from its competitors?
AJ: There are a lot of pure identity plays out there but Nuggets is all about personal information owned and controlled by the everyday person. A lot of identity and login services pass your details like your phone number and email upon executing the sign-up, but we don’t think that’s necessary. We also think ideally no personal information should be shared or stored with services, especially without the user consciously making that choice. And if you do, you should get a value for it.
We don’t believe in using emails and SMS to verify, and we believe the association of identity and payment with a trustless network, which removes the need for risk assessments and credit references, and, therefore, fraud and false positives, is the way forward.
I: How have you grown Nugget’s presence in the market?
AJ: We have tried to stay product focused from day one with an emphasis on empathy and understanding of people’s and businesses’ needs. To be honest, I am just being selfish, because most of what we are doing is looking to solve the problems that I have. It just so happens that a few billion other people are looking for the same solution. At the same time, we have talked to the community in a way that they understand, and we put a heck of a lot of effort into doing so.
I: How does your team work? Do you use any specific techniques?
AJ: We use the GSD management process, which basically means Getting Shit Done, through effort, time and ability. It really helps that everyone we work and associate with believes in our vision.
“Cryptocurrency is one of the most exciting things to have happened to our civilization… the potential that this technology brings is thrilling.”
I: What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome as a company?
AJ: Fundraising takes far too much time from the product, the vision, and the development of business in general. We would probably get three times as much done if that part didn’t require our time and supervision.
I: How was it starting a cryptocurrency and trying to take your company global?
AJ: Cryptocurrency is one of the most exciting things to have happened to our civilization in terms of payments, rewards and services. For people to be able to create and use a cryptocurrency, and the potential that this technology brings is… thrilling.
It was not so much a choice to go global as a necessity. Humanity is global and people’s personal data goes with them, as does the problem of data breaches. Besides that, we had modest aspirations until businesses and people from around the world came knocking.
I: What’s next for Nuggets? What’s in the nearest future?
AJ: Product development, product development, partner development, product development… Oh, and who could forget that funding stuff too! We have so many avenues and opportunities to work with, there just isn’t enough time in the day. Every person and business we meet and talk to creates new opportunities we then want to start another team working on, so who knows.
The key goal for us right now is getting Nuggets out into the market, to partners that understand, need and want a fundamental change from personal information being centralized by institutions and companies to total ownership and control by the individual.
I: Where would you ideally like to see yourself in 5 years?
AJ: Having made serious progress in that fundamental change in data control, but in a way that’s better, easier, quicker, more secure and private than before.
I: If you had to give one piece of advice to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
AJ: Go surfing. It’s bloody hard work, you need to be driven and committed like no other. It feels as if you are at the top of a waterfall with a plunge pool way below. You have to close your eyes, surrender, and dive in, only to find there’s another waterfall at the bottom of that pool. Surfing teaches you many lessons about life.
At the end of the day as an entrepreneur you need to feel what needs to be done and why. The “how” always takes a little longer. Tips and pointers help, but you have to feel it. Oh and apparently dislexia [sic] helps.
“It’s surprising how often [failure] creates an opportunity that would otherwise not have been there.”
I: Is there something you believe your team can do better than anyone else? What is your strength?
AJ: As I’ve mentioned, we’ve nailed the GSD methodology.
I: What is the skill you wish you or your team could perfect?
AJ: Landing funds without effort or time.
I: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
AJ: Just keep swimming. Thanks, Dory.
I: What is the most ridiculous advice you’ve heard from a colleague?
AJ: It’s ridiculous sounding, but it’s true: You can do it, even when you think you can’t, because you always do.
I: Do you believe failure can make or break a person?
AJ: Failing is learning, it just feels pretty rough to be learning your lessons that way. But it’s surprising how often the light can shine through and create an opportunity that would otherwise not have been there. You just have to remember about it on those dark days, that’s the trick.
I: How do you know when you’ve succeeded?
AJ: When you reach your goal and don’t even notice because you are to busy doing the next thing. It’s a journey, not a destination.
I: What is the best investment of money, energy and time for someone who’s trying to succeed?
AJ: Good people with passion, drive and skills. You need the navy seals of your field on the team, you can’t do it alone.
“I think anyone reading about how to be an entrepreneur may not be best suited to it. You need to be doing it, not reading about it.”
I: Do you have any weird or extraordinary habits? Any guilty pleasures?
AJ: I listen to modern piano music when I need to focus amidst the madness. Anyone who is aware of my love for house music will know this is a bit of a tangent.
I: What’s the best decision you’ve made in the last 10 years?
AJ: Leaving a large corporate that couldn’t see the light. But thanks all the same.
I: What are the top books you would say have influenced your life or your work ethic the most?
AJ: I think anyone reading about how to be an entrepreneur may not be best suited to it. You need to be doing it, not reading about it.
I: What would you say is or has been your worst time-waster both at home and at work? Do you watch TV? If yes, what is your favorite TV show/movie?
AJ: I do like to play Playstation for a little bit of escapism. Love to binge watch Netflix. The Jinx, wow, what an ending. Current binge, Ozark. Although my wife is away, and I’m not allowed to watch it alone by law [Laughs]. As for the best film – Life Is Beautiful.
I: What’s your favorite productivity app?
AJ: Google Docs for collaborative work, although it could be better. I hate being tied to a platform or device.
I: How do you wind down after a stressful day? How does one achieve that perfect work-life balance?
AJ: Playstation. The work-life balance I’m terrible at. The best thing I ever did was work with my wife, who also happens to be the co-founder of Nuggets. Not only is she a goddamn business Tyrannosaurus, but she also understands what’s needed in running a business. You would never be able to convince a partner that you need to spend this much time, effort and energy otherwise. Although sometimes we do feel like the working parents in Storks.